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In yet another move aimed at restricting LEGAL immigration, the White House announced Friday that immigration visas will be denied to applicants who can't prove they have health insurance, or are at least wealthy enough to pay for any care they're likely to need. The new restrictions were laid out in a proclamation signed by Donald Trump, although the New York Times reports the move was the brainchild of Trump's anti-immigrant Gauleiter, Stephen Miller.

The move will primarily affect people hoping to come to the US to join family members already living here, like say the parents of a Slovenian model whose own work permissions may have once been iffy, but have since been cleared up. (FOR INSTANCE.) That's the kind of "chain migration" Trump and Miller want to crack down on, because only Americans should have families.


The Times reports an anonymous White House official explained the new policy would not apply to refugees, asylum seekers, or to students coming to the US to attend college. The affected visas, which are processed by foreign service officers in embassies and consulates, are

the vehicle for receiving a green card in the United States for people who are processing their paperwork abroad. Once the policy is in place, people seeking those visas would be asked by consular officers to show how they intend to be covered by health insurance within 30 days of arriving in the United States. That could include proof that they will have health care through a job or will be covered under a relative's insurance.

If they cannot show that to the satisfaction of the consular office, their visa will be denied, the White House official said.

The new policy will go into effect starting November 3, unless it's stopped in the courts, and you can bet there will be legal challenges.

The Times notes the administration "cited a Kaiser Family Foundation study that said that among the nonelderly population, 23 percent of legal immigrants were likely to be uninsured, compared with about 8 percent of American citizens." That study, however, was primarily about undocumented immigrants, and noted, right up front, that we're not exactly talking about a huge number of people:

Although noncitizens are more likely to be uninsured than citizens, citizens still account for the majority of the nonelderly uninsured, since noncitizens account for a small share of the overall population.

Nonetheless, Trump's proclamation made "uninsured immigrants" sound like a massive crisis, claiming current policy, which already has strict screening for immigrant visas, is "making the problem worse by admitting thousands of aliens who have not demonstrated any ability to pay for their health care costs," and grumbling that uninsured legal immigrants are driving up healthcare costs. In reality, most people who qualify for green cards are already likely to work or have a family member who can support them. The new rule is just one more hurdle aimed at making the process longer and more confusing.

This is also pretty rich coming from an administration that has systematically driven up the costs of insurance under Obamacare, leading to the first increase in the uninsured rate since the ACA went into effect. And let's not forget that Trump is pushing the lawsuit to overturn Obamacare altogether, which will leave millions with no insurance. But at least they'll be uninsured Americans, damn it.

Trump's proclamation cites the same legal authority used to push through his earlier Muslim ban that was supposedly not a Muslim ban, and as immigration attorney William Stock told Forbes, that's likely to result in legal challenges, because Congress is supposed to set immigration law.

Here, the president is using the ban, in effect, to increase the income level required of new immigrants without asking Congress to do so. The Immigration and Nationality Act already bars those likely to become a "public charge," and provides that family-sponsored immigrants must also be supported by a sponsor who can financially support them at 125% of the federal poverty level.

That percentage is especially significant, since many lower-income legal immigrants are able to sign up for subsidized insurance under Obamacare, which provides subsidies to applicants making up to 138 percent of the poverty line. Therefore, says Stock, Trump's proclamation is "a de facto ban to new immigrants from their Congressionally-mandated eligibility for premium support" -- because screw Congress, we have immigrants to exclude. Like this year's earlier Fuck The Poors immigration rule, It's just another part of the effort to exclude as many immigrants as possible, playing into the bullshit stereotype that they're undesirables.

The Times also notes immigration advocates worry the short roll-out of the new rules will, as with everything the administration does, result in confusion and delays. Former Obama immigration policy official Doug Rand pointed out that

the State Department has a brief window to teach thousands of consular officers how to determine whether prospective immigrants can pay for their medical care.

"If this is not going to be enjoined by a court in the next month," Mr. Rand said, "it will cause complete chaos."

Ah, but under the Trump policy of weaponized incompetence, complete chaos is the point.

[NYT / Kaiser Family Foundation / Forbes]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.

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